The influence of the Atlantic Ocean seems everpresent at the mouth of the Bay.
In the water, salinity levels are high enough to support dolphins and other
ocean species. On land, human settlement patterns usually have an Atlantic twist.
Ocean access is one reason the famed settlement of Jamestown was established
here in 1607. The same access helps make urbanized Hampton Roads an important
cargo port and Naval center today.
The James River is the natural connection between Hampton Roads and the broader
Chesapeake watershed. Along its 450-mile course, the James shows off a little
of everything—extraordinary mountain scenery, grand Colonial plantations,
and some of the East Coast’s best rafting whitewater.
Gateways in this region offer a rich array of historical and natural experiences.
Water trails lead paddlers through landscapes both rural and urban. Museums
and historical parks explore the traditions of colonial America, military history,
and maritime life.